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The Source of Life

The life of all men proceeds from the spirit of the Father.

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Later on, some of John's pupils came to ask Jesus whether it was he of whom John spoke: Did he reveal the Kingdom of God and renew men by the spirits Jesus answered and said: Look for yourselves, and listen to the teaching-and tell John whether the Kingdom of God has begun and whether people are being renewed by the spirit. Tell him what Kingdom of God I am preaching. It is said in the prophecies that when the Kingdom of God comes all men will be blessed. Tell him that my Kingdom of God is such that the poor are blessed, and so is everyone who understands the teaching.

And having let John's pupils go, Jesus began to speak to the people about the Kingdom of God that John announced. He said: When you went to John in the wilderness to be baptized, what did you go to see? Orthodox teachers of the law went to see John too, but they did not understand what he was talking about, and considered him of no account. Those Orthodox teachers of the law only consider true what they themselves invent and hear from one another, or the law they have themselves devised; but what John says and what I say, they do not listen to and do not understand. Of what John says they have only understood that he fasts in the wilderness, and they say: 'There is a devil in him. Of what I say they have understood only that I do not fast, and they say: 'He eats and drinks with tax- gatherers and sinners-he is a friend of theirs.' They are like children in the street who chatter to one another and wonder that no one listens to them. And you may judge of their wisdom by what they do. If you went to John to see a man dressed in rich clothes-why, such men live here in the palaces. What then is it you went to see in the wilderness? Did you go because you think John is like other prophets? Do not think so! John is not a prophet like the others. He is more than all the prophets. The others foretold what might happen. He announces what is: namely, that the Kingdom of God was, and is, here on earth. I tell you truly: no one greater than John has ever been born. He has declared the Kingdom of God on earth and is therefore above all the others. The law and the prophets were necessary till John came, but now he has announced that the Kingdom of God is on earth, and that he who makes an effort can enter into it.

And some of the Orthodox came to Jesus and asked him: How and when will the Kingdom of God come? And he answered them: The Kingdom of God which I preach is not what the former prophets preached. They said that God would come with diverse visible signs, but I speak of a Kingdom of God the coming of which cannot be seen with the eyes. And if anyone tells you: See, it has come, or is coming; or, See, it is here, or there; do not believe them. The Kingdom of God is not in any definite time or place. It is like lightning-here, there and everywhere. And it has neither time nor place, for the Kingdom of God that I preach is within you.

After that, one of the Orthodox, a Jewish ruler named Nicodemus, came to Jesus at night and said: You do not bid men keep Saturday, or tell them to observe cleanliness, or to offer sacrifices, or to fast, and you would abolish the temple, and say that God is a spirit and that the Kingdom of God is within us.

What is this Kingdom of God?

And Jesus answered him: Understand that if man is conceived from heaven there must be something heavenly in him. You must be born again.

Nicodemus did not understand this, and said: How can a man, born of the flesh and grown up, return to his mother's womb and be conceived afresh? And Jesus answered him: Understand what I say: I say that man is born not from the flesh alone but also from the spirit, and so every man is conceived of flesh and of spirit, and therefore the kingdom of heaven is within him. Of the flesh he is flesh, From flesh spirit cannot be born; spirit can come only from spirit. The spirit is the living thing within you which lives in freedom and reason; it is that of which you know neither the beginning nor the end and which every man feels within him. So why do you wonder that I said that we must be born from heaven?

Nicodemus said: Still I do not believe that this can be so. Then Jesus said to him: What kind of a teacher are you if you do not understand this? Understand that I am not talking any kind of mystery; I speak of what we all know, and assure you of what we all see. How will you believe in what is in heaven if you do not believe in what is on earth and within yourself? No one has ever gone up to heaven, and we have only man on earth who has come from heaven and is himself of heaven. It is this heavenly son of man that must be exalted, that all may believe in him and not perish but have heavenly life. Not for man's destruction, but for their good, did God implant in man this son of his, like unto Himself. He gave him that everyone should believe in him and not perish but have eternal life. He did not bring this son of his (this inner life) into the world of men to destroy it, but brought forth his son (this inner life) that the world of men should live by him.

He who commits his life to this son of man does not die, but he who does not commit his life to him destroys himself by not trusting to what is life itself Division (death) consists in this, that life came into the world, but men go away from that life.

Light is the life of men; light came into the world, but men prefer darkness to light, and do not go to the light. He who does wrong avoids the light that his deeds may not be seen, and so deprives himself' of life. But he who lives in the truth goes to the light that his deeds may be seen, and he has life and is united to God.

The Kingdom of God must be understood not as you imagine-that the Kingdom of God will come for all men at a certain time and in a certain place-but thus: in the whole world there are always some people who rely on the heavenly son of man, and these become sons of the Kingdom; the others who do not rely on him perish. The Father of the spirit in man is the Father of those only who acknowledge themselves as his sons. And therefore only those exist to him who have preserved within them what he gave them.

After this Jesus began to explain to the people what the Kingdom of God is, and he taught it to them by parables.

He said: The Father-who is the spirit-sows the life of understanding in the world as a husbandman sows grain in his field. He sows over the whole field without remarking which seeds fall in what place. And some seeds fall on the path and the birds come and eat it. Other seeds fall among stones and though they come up they wither, because there is no room for their roots. Others again fall among wormwood and the wormwood chokes them, and though ears form they do not fill. But other seeds fall on good ground and grow and make up for the lost seed, and bear ears which fill, and which yield thirtyfold, or sixtyfold, or a hundredfold. So God also has sown the spirit broadcast in man: in some it is lost but in others it yields a hundredfold. It is these last that form the Kingdom of God.

So the Kingdom of God is not what you imagine-that God will come to reign over you. God has sown the spirit, and the Kingdom of God will be only in those who preserve it.

God does not force men but, like a sower, casts seed on the ground and thinks no more of it. The seed itself swells, sprouts, puts forth leaf, stalk, and ears that fill with grain. Only when it has ripened does the husbandman send reapers to gather in the harvest. In the same way God gave His Son-the spirit-to the world; and the spirit grows in the world of itself, and the sons of the spirit make up the Kingdom of God.

A woman puts yeast into a kneading trough and mixes it with flour. She then mixes it no more but lets the yeast and the bread rise. As long as people live God does not interfere with their life. He gave the spirit to the world and the spirit lives in men, and those who live by the spirit constitute the Kingdom of God. For the spirit there is neither death nor evil. Death and evil exist for the flesh but not for the spirit.

The Kingdom of God may be compared to this: a farmer sowed good seed in his field. The farmer is the spirit, the Father; the field is the world; the good seed are the sons of the Kingdom of God. Then the farmer lay down to sleep and an enemy came and sowed darnel in the field. The enemy is temptation, and the darnel represents those who yield to temptation. Then the laborers came to the farmer and said: Can you have sown bad seed? Much darnel has come up on your field. Send us to weed it out. And the farmer said: No, do not do that, or in I weeding out the darnel you will trample the wheat. Let them grow together. When the harvest comes I will tell the reapers to gather the darnel and burn it, but the wheat I will store in the barn. The harvest is the end of human life, the harvesters are the powers of heaven. They will burn the darnel, but the wheat will be winnowed and gathered. So also at life's end all that was temporary illusion will perish, and the true life of the spirit will alone be left. Evil does not exist for the Father, the spirit. The spirit keeps what it needs and what is not of it does not exist for it.

The kingdom of heaven is like a net. When spread out in the sea it catches all kinds of fish, and when it is drawn in, the worthless fish are set aside and thrown back into the sea. So will it be at the end of the age: the powers of heaven will take the good and the evil will be cast away. And when he had finished speaking, his pupils asked him what these parables meant. And he said to them: These parables must be understood in two ways. I speak all these parables because there are some like you, my pupils, who understand what the Kingdom of God consists of, and understand that it is within each man, and understand how to enter it; but others do not understand this. They look but do not see, they hear but do not understand, for their hearts have become gross. So I speak these parables with two meanings, for these people and for those. To the others I speak of God, of what His Kingdom is for Him, and they may understand that. But for you I speak of what the Kingdom of God is for you-the kingdom that is within you.

And see that you understand the parable of the sower rightly. For you that parable means this: To everyone who has understood the meaning Of the Kingdom of God, but has not accepted it in his heart, evil comes and robs him of what was sown; this is the seed by the wayside. That which was sown on stony ground represents the man who receives the teaching readily and gladly, but has no root and only accepts it for a time, and as soon as pressure and persecution comes because of the meaning of the kingdom, he at once denies it. That which is sown among the wormwood is he who understands the meaning of the kingdom, but worldly cares and eagerness for riches strangle the meaning in him and he does not bear fruit. And that which was sown on good ground is he who understands the meaning of the kingdom and takes it into his heart; he bears fruit a hundredfold, or sixtyfold, or thirtyfold. For to him that keeps the spirit much is given; but from him who does not keep it everything will be taken away. So see how you understand these parables. Understand them so as not to yield to deceptions, wrong-doings, and cares, but so as to yield thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or a hundredfold.

The kingdom of heaven in the soul grows up from nothing but gives everything. It is like a birch-seed, which is a very small seed, but when it grows up becomes a very big tree, and the birds of heaven build their nests in it.

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Leo Tolstoy

  • Full name: Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy
  • Russian novelist and philosopher
  • Born September 9th, 1828 and died November 20th, 1910
  • Best known for War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877)

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